There is perhaps no story in college football today that’s easier to root for than that of Kansas football. As a snake-bitten team with few enemies that’s become a top dog in their conference out of literal nowhere, I feel they are worthy of being labeled “the Detroit Lions of college football”.
Something that adds to that comparison is the fact that neither squad has seen their head coach hit a ceiling yet. While Detroit’s Dan Campbell took his team from three wins to nine before hitting 13 with an NFC title game appearance, Kansas’ Lance Leipold took the Jayhawks from two wins to six before hitting nine with a bowl win—no steps down.
Leading what are typically such laughable teams to such foreign success has them both receiving great praise, with Campbell being a frontrunner for this NFL season’s Coach of the Year award and Leipold having his name be thrusted into hiring talks more often. But, luckily for the Jayhawks, Leipold does not appear interested in coaching anywhere else for the time being.
So to summarize: Leipold has turned a cursed college football program into a formidable power with zero signs of either slowing down or jumping ship. With that image in mind, one must ask what all else could Kansas football have in store for us? In fact, it was that exact can of worms I opened in my previous story.
Last week, I tasked myself with breaking down the favorites to win the Big 12 in 2024 following the conference’s recent schedule release. The process soon led me to the realization that KU ran a menacingly strong chance of being the league’s team to beat for multiple reasons, including the departures of Oklahoma and Texas, Oklahoma State not being on its schedule, and Kansas State having both a tougher slate and an inferior quarterback situation.
The only downside to the piece was that while I spent the entire time hyping up the Jayhawks, I did so solely within a capacity relevant to their odds of winning the Big 12, nothing more—and I didn’t even analyze that to its most thorough degree, as I spent virtually no time picking apart their calendar.
However, the subject of how much higher the Jayhawks can reach overall goes beyond just saying their league play looks manageable. We need to categorize their entire lineup of opponents by either being easily beatable or considerably tricky and why; that’s the only way we’ll obtain a specific idea of where their potential should take them in 2024.
With that said, let’s kick things off by looking at their non-conference foes.